Ebanks, Mountaineers Knock Off Pirates in Overtime

December 26th, 2009

If told before the game that Seton Hall would shoot 16-for-33 from the foul line and 6-for-30 from behind the arc nine out of ten people would figure that Bobby Gonzalez's team were blown out. But what happened defied wisdom, with Seton Hall scoring twelve of the last fourteen points in regulation to send the game into overtime on a Jeremy Hazell three pointer. But all that shot did was delay the inevitable; West Virginia proved to be too much in winning the Big East opener 90-84 at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Devin Ebanks (22 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists), Da'Sean Butler (21 points, six rebounds and six assists) and Kevin Jones (19 points, 14 rebounds) were sensational on a day in which Butler battled foul trouble for much of the afternoon. Hazell led the Pirates with forty-one but the issue for them outside of their woes from the line and from distance was the distribution of shots (or lack thereof). Jeremy attempted thirty-three shots and made fourteen (4-for-19 from three) while no other Pirate attempted more than nine (Herb Pope and Eugene Harvey). Pope, who posted another double double (11 points, 11 rebounds), missed nine of ten free throw attempts. 

Seton Hall went into the game ranking 280th nationally (13th in the Big East) in free throw percentage, shooting 64.3% from the line. They didn't even reach 50% on Saturday and you cannot expect to pull off an upset of a Top 10 team with a number like that. But the effort was encouraging; there were a few time throughout the game in which the Pirates could have fallen by the wayside and no one would have been surprised. But they continued to fight and earned five more minutes of basketball as a result. But for this team to be successful in Big East play there has to be a better distribution of the shots despite Hazell's prolific scoring ability. And it goes without saying that the Pirates will need to hit their free throws. Next up: Syracuse on Tuesday night at The Rock. 

Iona Visits UConn on Sunday

Kevin Willard's Iona Gaels take their five-game win streak on the road Sunday afternoon, taking on #11 Connecticut in Hartford (2PM on ESPNU). The last time these two met was during the 2003-04 season, when the Huskies won by fifty (104-54) on their way to a national title. Connecticut is led by the trio of Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Kemba Walker, and senior Gavin Edwards has proven to be their best option off the bench. Iona is actually the deeper of the two teams when it comes to how many players get quality minutes but they're also the younger team. 

Scott Machado and Kyle Smyth will have to lead the backcourt if Iona is to entertain any thoughts of winning this one. Another area to watch: rebounding. The Huskies haven't been the team that dominates the glass at they've been in seasons past and it's too much right now to expect the addition of Ater Majok to mean a marked improvement. With guys like Alejo Rodriguez and Mike McFadden (Jonathan Huffman as well), Coach Willard can crash the boards with a number of bodies. Look for UConn to win the game but Iona will make them work for it.